PRECIOUS-Gold keeps gains on safe-haven demand as stocks tumble

SINGAPORE, April 6 (Reuters) - Gold held sharp overnight
gains on Wednesday as soft global economic data and a tumble in
equities sent investors scurrying towards the safe-haven metal.
    * Spot gold eased 0.2 percent to $1,228.30 an ounce
by 0040 GMT on profit taking, but retained most of its 1.3
percent gain on Tuesday.
    * Bullion rose along with other safe-haven assets such as
the Japanese yen as economic data out of Europe and the United
States prompted a retreat from riskier assets.
    * Data on Tuesday showed the U.S. trade deficit widened more
than expected in February as a rebound in exports was offset by
an increase in imports, the latest indication that economic
growth weakened further in the first quarter. Other data showed
activity in the vast services sector picked up in
    * German industrial orders unexpectedly dropped in February,
while Britain's economy appeared to have slowed since the start
of this year according to a closely watched survey. 
    * The MSCI All-World Index dropped 1.4
percent on Tuesday, its worst day since early February. The
dollar fell to its weakest level against the yen since October
    * Concerns remained over the timing of U.S. interest rate
hikes after recent comments from Federal Reserve officials.
    * Gold had posted its biggest quarterly rise in nearly 30
years in the March quarter, rallying 16 percent as expectations
faded that the Fed would move to normalize interest rates due to
concerns over the global economy. The U.S. central bank raised
rates in December for the first time in nearly a decade.
    * But recent hawkish comments have worried bullion
investors. Gold is highly exposed to rising U.S. interest rates
because they lift the opportunity cost of holding non-yielding
    * Boston Federal Reserve President Eric Rosengren said on
Monday it was "surprising" that futures markets currently imply
only one or no interest rate hikes this year, a prediction he
said could prove "too pessimistic".
    * Chicago Fed President Charles Evans also made similar
comments on Tuesday. 
    * Elsewhere, a federal court in New York fined two United
Arab Emirates residents more than $2.6 million to settle charges
of "spoofing" in the gold and silver futures markets and
permanently banned them from trading, the Commodity Futures
Trading Commission said on Tuesday. 
    * SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed
exchange-traded fund, said its holdings fell 0.28 tonnes to
815.44 tonnes on Tuesday. 
    * For the top stories on metals and other news, click
    0145 China Caixin services PMI Mar 
    0600 Germany Industrial output Feb 
    1800 Minutes of U.S. Federal Reserve's March 15-16 meeting
    PRICES AT 0040 GMT
 Metal            Last     Change    Pct chg
 Spot gold         1228.3     -2.39    -0.19
 Spot silver        15.08    -0.046     -0.3
 Spot platinum      948.5        -2    -0.21
 Spot palladium    543.72      0.22     0.04
 Comex gold        1230.1       0.5     0.04
 Comex silver       15.11    -0.006    -0.04
 COMEX gold and silver contracts show the
 most active months

 (Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi; Editing by Richard Pullin)